You’d think that once you gave your life to Jesus, that things would be all good after that, wouldn’t you? God has some powerful promises about how good things will be once you ask Jesus into your heart, but He tells us one thing for sure – bad things will still happen. Thankfully, there’s much more to God’s promise.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”–Romans 8:28 (NIV)
Bad things happen. Bad things happen to good people. Bad things even happen to those who call Jesus their Lord. A casual, out-of-context reading of Romans 8:28 might be misinterpreted as saying that, for believers, it will all be good.
Well, not so much.
First, one only has to read the preceding dozen verses in chapter eight to realize that bad things will happen. Second, the words Paul carefully chose clearly say that God has to do some work in order for things to be good. If things were all good to begin with, God would have no work to do at all. So, no matter how we look at it, we must come to the conclusion that pain, strife, struggles, and all manner of bad things are going to be a part of our lives. So what are we to do? The people of Jesus’ time asked Him the same question. Let’s see how He answered them. . .
The 600 Point Plan?
During Jesus’ time the Law was the measuring stick. It contained 600+ individual laws that were designed to help the people of God know right from wrong. The religious leaders of Jesus’ time added a dizzying array of additional rules, guidelines, and interpretations on top of this 600-point plan. Jesus was called upon often to make sense of it all. Even the leaders questioned Jesus, having trouble keeping it all straight themselves. Jesus’ audiences anticipated that Jesus’ answers to their questions would contain precise explanations of the finest details of the Law. Jesus went in a completely different direction. He presented a different plan…
The Two-Point Plan
Jesus said that they were making things way too complicated. So much so, that they were overlooking the whole reason the Law was given to them in the first place. So Jesus boiled the 600-points down to two:
- Love God.
- Love others.
That was it. He explained that each of the 600-points was founded on one of these two imperatives. Nothing done outside of them would do, no matter what additional language was included.
Now, let’s get back to Paul’s letter. God will work all things for the good of those who:
Love Him – God lovingly created each of us with the sole desire that we enter into a loving, personal relationship with Him, offered by His grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. At the center of this relationship, is an abundance of God’s love too great to be contained within a single person’s heart. Thus, His called purpose. . .
Love others – God’s desire for loving relationship extends to all people. When we love Him, we are given more love in return than we can handle! Pouring it onto others around us is God’s only intended use for the excess.
God wants desperately to deal with the bad things that happen. He waits with great anticipation for us to do our part. If we do, He promises to take all things, good and bad, and work them for good. God even showed us how this works.
Consider Jesus’ Disciples – The Biggest, Baddest, Bad Thing
The disciples were excited! The Messiah had come! Israel was to be restored to its former glory, and the man that would lead the charge had called them to be part of His team. While they were anticipating where they would each sit in King Jesus’ court (James and John campaigned for the highest offices), Jesus was betrayed, captured, tried, and executed. Their dreams of conquest and victory, sharing in the power and authority of the new kingdom were shattered. They loved Jesus and answered the call to follow Him. But good things did not happen. The worst thing imaginable had happened instead. They scattered and hid. All seemed lost. But what the disciples were in the middle of was the greatest bad-to-good turnaround in history! Three days after this tragedy, they would receive incredible good news! Jesus was alive! He had conquered death and returned to walk among them in the ultimate power and authority. And they were partners in this great victory, one far greater than they could have imagined. God had worked things for good indeed! Now it didn’t mean that their troubles were over. They would face trials and suffering. But they knew, from first-hand experience, that God could and would work it all for their good, because they loved Him and were called to His purpose.
That’s the truth.
And we know that in all things God will work for good for you, if you love Him, and if you love others – His great purpose for which you have been called.
That’s the YouTruth – All things, for good, for you.
©2010 Dan Buckhout
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Great stuff, Dan! Thank you! Excellent perspective – I love the “point plan” analogy.